Adopting Your Next Furry Family Member • RI Family Photographer

Maine Coon cat in Wakefield, RI

Pets are just as much a part of the family as human family members.  Adding a pet to your family, whether it's a first pet or a second (or more) is a big, exciting process.  Sometimes there's even a little bit of anxiety thrown in.  

My cat, Lionel, was adopted from the South Kingstown Animal Shelter in Wakefield, RI when he was just a baby.

Just recently, we decided to add to our family and adopted a puppy, this time from Animal Rescue Rhode Island, also in Wakefield.  He's small, he's cute, he's full of personality and he and Lionel are slowly getting used to each other.

Puppy on Narragansett Town Beach

Making the decision to adopt a pet is a big one, and there are a lot of things to consider.

So what are the most important things to consider and steps to follow when adopting a pet?  As a RI children's photographer, it's a process I've been through a number of times, so here are some tips to make there process go smoothly.

1.  Decide what type of pet you want to adopt.

This is pretty self explanatory.  Are you looking for a cat?  A dog?  Something smaller like a guinea pig or rabbit?  Also, decide whether you're looking for a specific breed of animal, or if you are open to adopting from shelters or rescues.  All of my babies have been shelter animals and I can't recommend them enough!  Last, decide whether you want a baby, or are open to adult animals.  Many people have their heart set on a baby animal.  Babies animals are adorable and loving; they're also a lot of work.  Adult animals often have their training and manners down and may be a bit less energetic.  Think about what works for you.

2.  Consider what pet personalities will mesh best with your kids and other pets.

Maine Coon cat in Wakefield, RI

Are your kids adventurous teens and tweens who will get along well with an active larger dog?  Do you have a cat who is looking for a calm kitty as his or her companion?  Knowing what works best for your family will help narrow your search.

3.  Start your search.

Sites like Petfinder streamline the process of looking for and adopting a pet from a shelter.  You can search by type of pet, age, and more and you will get results within your geographical area.  See someone you like?  Go visit them.  If not, keep searching!  So much easier than driving shelter to shelter in the old days!  

If you're looking for a purebred pet, research breeders and get references.   Also keep in mind that there are rescues for many breeds of both dogs and cats, and many of the animals are purebreds.  Consider adopting from one of these organizations; the animals really need good homes!

4.  Go in with an open mind.

You may see a pet you're sure you'll love on Petfinder and go to the shelter to visit him or her, only to realize that pet is not the right fit with you or your family.  This isn't uncommon; it's happened to me!  While it may be disappointing in the moment, keep an open mind:  you'll find your perfect pet.  In fact, that pet may be at the shelter right then and there.  Take the time to visit with any other animals they have, too, to see if any of them are your BFF.

5.  Once your pet comes home, be patient. 

Puppy on Narragansett Town Beach

Having a new animal in your home is a BIG change for everyone:  your family, your new pet, and any pets you may already have.  Be patient while everyone adjusts; it can take time.  Make your home as calming and comfortable as possible for everyone, and when the puppy has an accident again, breathe in, breathe out, and realize that soon he will be house trained.  Make sure everyone, human and pet, has a routine, and if your new guy or girl is a puppy (or a dog who needs a refresher), consider going to training classes.

Overall, enjoy your new pet...they are going to be a very important member of your family!

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